AUB Libraries Online Exhibits

Vibrant Colors and Whimsical Drawings

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الهدية، قصة رنا قبّاني، رسوم بهجت عثمان، دار الفتى العربي 1980

Al-Hadiyya (The Gift) tackles issues of belonging and difference. Bahgat Othman’s drawings stands out in two respects: his use of the cut-out technique gives expression to the main message of the story-- accepting otherness-- in an extremely clever way that links form and content; and his use of colored paper introduces the concern with a person’s skin color in an age-appropriate and subtle manner.

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الشراع الأبيض، قصة محمد عبد العظيم، رسوم حجازي، دار الفتى العربي 1975

Hijazi’s outstanding mastery of artistry is here exemplified via the layers of depth with which he endows the drawings. Hijazi worked as a political cartoonist for over two decades, but later became an illustrator of children’s books. This shift was fueled by his frustration with political realities in Egypt and the Arab world during the mid-seventies: his hope was that addressing young Arabs would be a more promising way to help enact better social and political conditions.

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ندم حصان، قصة زكريا تامر ، رسوم ليلى الشوا، دار الفتى العربي 1975

Written by Zakaria Tamer and illustrated by Leila al-Shawwa, Nadam Husan follows a theme common to Tamer’s writings: social restrictions on freedom and the taming of the wild. Tamer often uses animal metaphors to comment on the human condition. Mohieddine al-Labbad describes this jewel book saying, "[Nadam Husan] was a sort of comparison between a free, wild horse and a domesticated, servile one. At the time, I came across an exhibition of paintings of horses in Yemen by Laila Shawa. So I asked her if she would like to illustrate this book for me. When she hesitated, I told her that we could do the book together. I said, “You do the paintings in whichever form you like, and just leave me some space for the text.” We laid out the book together, and it was really beautiful"(Interview with al-Labbad, Bidoun Magazine). Al-Shawwa has become a renowned artist with her work exhibited around the world. Her work features Palestine and the Palestinian predicament as a constant element.

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أشعار وصور الحروف، قصة محمد الهراوى، رسم حلمي التوني، دار الشروق 1992

Published in 1991 by Dar al-Shourouq, a publishing house that upheld some of the standards set up by Dar al-Fata for publishing quality children books, Ash’ar wa Suwar al-Huruf is illustrated by Helmi al-Touni. This book, featuring a poem from Diwan al-Hrawi (1939)\ where el-Touni used pointillism to achieve a polished and vibrant aestheticism, stands in stark contrast with al-Hrawi's Samir al-Atfal published in 1922, and featured below. El-Touni was one of the major and most prolific illustrators of Dar al-Fata.

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سمير الأطفال، محمد الهراوى، دار الكتب المصرية 1922

Samir al-Atfal, published in 1922, was one of al-Hrawi’s several contributions to children’s literature. The poetry is companied by photographs of girls in school uniforms often posing rigidly; these complement the book’s theme of preaching discipline and proper manners. Ash’ar wa Suwar al-Huruf above is a testament to the leap made by Dar al-Fata. Rooting the book in the work of a turn-of-the-century poet, el-Touni decorated it with stunning dotted illustrations conveying rich cultural references. Such was the accomplishment of Dar al-Fata’s publications: it made monumental leaps in graphism while remaining anchored in Arab history.